Elder law is one of the newest specialty areas of the law that has emerged in recent years. Although elder law is a relatively new area of law, it is fast becoming a much sought after and necessary area of the law. The reason for this is due, in large part, to the exploding elderly population in the United States. As the Baby Boomers move into their retirement years, the sheer number of older Americans has created a need for attorneys who specialize in legal issues that impact the elderly. Whether you are an older individual yourself, or a caregiver for an elderly loved one, you should be able to recognize when, and why, you might need the assistance of an elder law attorney.
What Is Elder Law?
Legal issues that affect the elderly are hardly new; however, the area of the law referred to as “elder law” is relatively new. It began to develop in the 1970s as the population of older Americans started to grow. Eventually, Stetson University School of Law created a Masters of Law Program for attorneys who wished to focus at least part of their practice on elder law issues. Unlike other areas of the law that require an attorney to learn a specific subject matter in-depth, such as tax law, elder law is more about how various legal issues affect the elderly and those who care for them. For instance, an elder law attorney would focus on tax laws that target the elderly.
Reasons You Might Need an Elder Law Attorney
While there are a virtually endless number of scenarios that might lead to the need for an elder law attorney, some common scenarios include:
- Social Security benefits – you and/or your spouse worked hard all your life, now you should be able to collect your Social Security retirement benefits and enjoy your Golden Years. If you encounter problems, consult an elder law attorney.
- Veteran benefits – if you are a veteran or a surviving spouse, you may be entitled to a number of VA benefits – some of which you may not be familiar, such as Veteran’s Aid and Attendance.
- Medicaid eligibility and benefits – even if you have never needed to qualify for Medicaid in the past, as a senior there is a good chance you will need to in order to help cover the high cost of long-term care. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can be tricky, particularly if you did not anticipate the need to qualify ahead of time. An elder law attorney can help.
- Long-term care – everything about long-term care can be confusing, from identifying the need for care, to finding the right facility and then figuring out how to pay for it. Elder law attorneys understand the challenges you are facing and can help.
- Elder abuse – sadly, elder abuse happens far more frequently than you probably think it does. Statistics are difficult to gather for a variety of reasons; however, experts believe at least one in every 10 seniors suffers some sort of abuse each year in the U.S. Even worse is that fact that at least 75 percent of the perpetrators of elder abuse are family members who are supposed to be caring for the elderly victim. If you suspect that an elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse, in any of its numerous forms, an elder law lawyer can provide you with legal options.
- Retirement planning –
- Housing and other discrimination –
- Guardianship – sometimes, physical and/or mental incapacity reaches a point at which it is no longer safe for an elderly loved one to care for himself/herself. When that happens, a loved one must make the difficult decision to step in and petition for guardianship. As difficult as it is to make that decision, failing to act could result in serious injury or victimization by those who intentionally prey on the elder and disabled. An elder law attorney can help you decide if guardianship is necessary and if it is, help you petition the court to become your loved one’s guardian.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about what elder law lawyers do, or if you are unsure whether you need the assistance of an elder law lawyer, contact the experienced New Jersey elder law lawyers at Augulis Law Firm by calling 908-222-8803 to schedule your appointment today.